29 MARCH 1963, Page 8

Chalgrove Field Chaigrove Field is where John Hampden died during

the Civil War. His tenacity and contempt for incompetence have worthy successors in the present inhabitants. As Lady Rothenstein shows in her letter, Chalgrove Airfield has been the scene of enough Whitehall bumbling to merit another Crichel Down disgrace. The 600 farm. land acres of Chalgrove were offered for sale in 1959 to Martin Baker Ltd. for the testing of ejector seats. The crux of the present dispute is the future of the land when Martin Baker no longer need the use of it. Will the land be sold back to its original owners, or will Martin Baker keep it? The Air Ministry has claimed consistently that it will be sold back. But Martin Baker's solicitors four weeks ago denied that any such promise ever had been or would be given. The Ministry's publication of the letters ex- changed in 1959 made it clear that the and wculd be sold back to the original owners the company decided to sell the land, not when its work on it has finished, as successive Ministers have claimed. The mystery deepens. Though negotiations for the sale of, the land. began in 1959 (when the Government owned it). the sale is still incomplete.